POLITICS
05/05/2014 01:40 pm ET | Updated May 06, 2014

Rick Santorum: GOP Opposition To Minimum Wage 'Makes No Sense'

Former senator and GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said Monday that the Republican Party's hard-line stance against minimum wage increases "makes no sense."

"I don't understand," Santorum said on MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd." "This is one I don't get. If the Republicans want to go out and say, 'We're against the minimum wage,' then go out and make the argument to the American public and 80-some percent of the American public believes we should have the minimum wage. But they're making arguments about why we shouldn't have any increase."

Indeed, the minimum wage is extremely popular in America, and recent polling shows wide backing for the particular Democratic proposal now being considered by Congress. Republicans, however, have lined up squarely against the measure, which would gradually raise the federal wage floor from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour and then tie it to an inflation index.

As Santorum noted, Republican lawmakers haven't debated how much to increase the minimum wage and when. Instead they have opted to oppose the very idea of raising the wage floor at all -- even though it's been raised more than 20 times since the minimum wage was first established in 1938.

Santorum argued that Republicans need to take a more reasonable approach to the issue and concede that the minimum wage needs to be raised once in a while. He said he believes it should be periodically increased so that it covers a certain percentage of the workforce.

"According to the numbers I've seen, the minimum wage covers about 2 percent of all workers. Historically, it's been 7 to 9 percent," Santorum told Todd. "And so what I've said -- and I argued this when I was in Congress -- we should try to keep it in the 7 percent range … Whatever gets you to 7 percent. Then, if it falls back, you have to look at the situation. If we're in an economic crisis, you may not want to raise it. If things are better, you probably do want to raise it."

Echoing recent comments made by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), Santorum said that Republicans' flat opposition to the minimum wage runs counter to the party's claims that it fights for the working class.

"Let's not make this argument that we're for the blue collar guy but we're against any minimum wage hike ever," he said. "It just makes no sense."

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